In 1947 the English author Dennis Wheatley wrote a letter to the dystopian future he thought was coming and buried it. Twenty-two years later the letter was uncovered. It had not aged well.
Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books have a long history in the Soviet Union and Russia, from illegal translations in the 1960s to a film in the 1980s to an unauthorised retelling sympathetic to the orcs in the 1990s.
When a location is abandoned by humans, nature returns. Sci-fi author Bruce Sterling calls these feral landscapes involuntary parks.
The heart symbol may have originated with an ancient Roman form of birth control, a plant that is probably now extinct.
In 1725 Professor Beringer of the University of Würzburg dug up some extraordinary fossils: they contained the name of God written in Hebrew. A book, a court case, and the ruining of several careers ensued.
Mix egg yolks, dates, honey, vinegar, oil, wine, shallots, and herbs, and then add a roasted flamingo. This is Apicius, one of the earliest surviving cookbooks.
Imagine a neighbour talking to a neighbour talking to a neighbour in a long chain of communication. At the start of the chain, they are speaking Portuguese. At the end of the same chain, they are speaking Italian.
Soviet Russia kept undesirables (criminals and political dissidents) away from view by banning them from coming closer than 101km to major urban centres.
A bottle of wine on display in a German museum is more than 1600 years old. There are none older – but it probably tastes terrible.
Antoine Lavoisier explained how combustion uses oxygen with a very clever experiment. Later, he lost his head.
French magician Ivan Chabert was famous in the 19th century CE for his feats with heat: sitting in an oven, putting melted lead in his mouth, and bathing his feet in molten metal.
In ancient art from Europe to India a particular artistic motif frequently appears: a male or female figure grabbing two wild creatures, one in each hand. These are the Master and Mistress of Animals.
While Roman emperors were empowered to choose their own successor, the first emperor to actually be succeeded by his own natural-born son was Vespasian.
A New Year tradition from Scotland says the first person to enter your house in the new year dictates your fortunes for that year.
What is it about this time of year and the number twelve? In Spain and countries culturally connected to Spain, twelve grapes is a New Year tradition.